Bunnahabhain Moine 2004, 13yo, Marsala Cask, 56.6% – OB Distillery Only

In April of last year I went to Islay with three of my best friends for a rather epic week of booze, scenery, Scotland and a few games of Cards Against Humanity. We decided to not do too many distillery visits, since we also wanted to see the island itself, which was a good decision (read more here, here and here).

Of course, way more was spent on whisky ‘for bottle sharing’ than anticipated, but this one was a no-brainer as soon as we tried it. The then Distillery Only bottling at Bunnahabhain was one that I didn’t expect much of (weird cask, peated to where I prefer their unpeated whisky), but a sip of it during the Warehouse 9 Tasting made me change my mind. Of course, there’s the risk of it being significantly less impressive out of its natural habitat, but here we are.

20190106_141347.jpgSniff:
Far lighter than you’d expect from a peated Bunna, Marsala and the ABV. The smoke is slightly menthol like. Some leather and a bit of dried fruit. Mango, peach, figs and honey, a bit more gentle than ‘normal’ sherry casks (so, no dates, plums). Fatty/creamy milk chocolate.

Sip:
Still not ‘unsharp’, but more in the range of a 48/50% drink, compared to the 56.6%. Thick, juicy and fruity with hints of leather, and baked fruits. Peaches, mango. The smoke is quite present, but not overpowering. A crisp hint of menthol and thyme. Dry oak and old dunnage warehouses.

Swallow:
The finish focuses more on the oak and the smoke than before. The fruit is still there, but slightly dialed back. A bit funky with old moldy warehouses and old casks. Rather long and warming.

Truly like being back at the distillery during the very epic tasting, on a Monday morning. We had an awesome tasting then, which colors your judgment. But in this case the enthusiasm is still alive and kicking nine months later. An absolutely gorgeous and fruit dram that really embodies what Bunnahabhain makes me think of.

It’s rather thick and syrupy, which works well in this case, with the light dried fruits and leather. A very old fashioned Bunnahabhain, and I love it.

The only drawback of this whisky is that I decided to split it with my friends, and therefore only had a (sizeable) sample. Silly me.

90/100

Bunnahabhain Moine 2004, 13yo, Marsala Cask, 56.6%, OB Distillery Only in 2017/2018.

Of course, it’s now available through the secondary market for a lot more…

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Welcome in 2019

I’m not sure everyone saw it coming, but 2019 had been on the verge of being the year we live in since Christmas or so. How quickly these things go.

Anyway, let’s do this 2019 thing!

I’m not going to bore you to death will all kinds of whisky related goodie-two-shoes resolutions in which I want to be nicer to people and respect other people’s tastes more. Sometimes people are just wrong. Sometimes taste isn’t as subjective as it is supposed to be. Some whisky is just shit whisky.

I do have some plans for the year, but that’s more a to-do list than they are New Year’s Resolutions, although I can’t really explain what the difference is. It’s not any of that new year, new me shite.

What I’m going to plan and hopefully do is get a bit more financially sane. So less whisky buying and actually drinking some of the bottles I have amassed over the last decade or so. The same goes for my other hobbies, apart from the fact that I can’t really drink boardgames and cardgames.

Sneaking one resolution in

Spending far less on beer than last year, in which I already spent far less than the year before.

Not because I dislike beer or dislike brewers having my money, but because
a: I have to save money for more important things somewhere.
b: I am getting a bit jaded with the beer industry. Every new brewer thinks they’ve laid the golden egg and ask 3 or 4 euros for a random blond beer or an IPA. When it gets a bit more exclusive with barrel aging, 7 or 8 euros for a bottle.

The collection

Almost three years ago I wrote a piece on being tired of having a ‘whisky collection’ that was completely invisible and unreachable. Things have changed for the better since because I got ‘whisky room 2.0’ back. Everything is crammed into the third to smallest room in the house (as in, it’s slightly bigger than both bogs).

Luckily, I’ve pruned my collection a bit over the years and what’s there is much more to my liking than the utter randomness than what came before. However, I do have too many open bottles and I’m going to fix that. Both by finishing more of these first, and by doing a bit of a ‘yard sale’ of samples from my open bottles.

This can also be read as: I took slightly too large samples for myself over the last year or so, to make bottle-shares happen. Now I’m going to try again with what’s left.

Not in the last place because I can use the money for other things that I’ve got lined up.

This can also be read as: I spend too much money on shit and I want to get some back before the misses gets too mad at me. This might sound like she’s got me under her thumb (not denying that), but in this case she’d be right.

The samples

This plan has been around for as long as I’ve been buying samples: Get through them! It got a bit better last year in which I actually decreased the amount of samples on my shel(f/ves). That’s going to continue in 2019 too.

There’s still some 200 or more, I plan to count them today and make a plan with some steps, much like ‘finish X samples in January’.

Wrapping up

That’s it for the first post in the new year. Happy new year and stuff. Have a good one!

In regards to the whisky industry and any other industry for that matter: Vote with your money. Prefer the whisky with no packaging. Buy beer in cans. Don’t give in to ridiculous price hikes. Try before you buy if possible. Be honest but don’t be a dick about it. Prioritize.

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Inchmurrin 1996-2018, 51% – Malts of Scotland

I was just checking, but I’ve not reviewed an Inchmurrin since the triptych from the Whisky Nerds came out last year. I’ve had some in between and even guessed on right in a blind tasting I was at, a few weeks ago. It’s a rather recognizable character, so to say.

Then, a while ago, I bought this sample of my ‘whisky neighbour’ RvB since it was a decently aged Inchmurrin, from a respected bottler, and from a sherry cask. A recipe for success, I’d say!

Let’s dive right in!

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
Moldy sherry notes. Dry, slightly coastal, hay, old fruit. It’s very weird, very unconventional. Pencils.

Sip:
Strangely thin, but strong. Some oak, plants, hay, sherry. But it’s not overly rich or complex. Gets stronger and strangely beery.

Swallow:
Some pencils, sulphur, sherry and hay. Not very long, but rather green.

It’s weird in the wrong way. Hence the lack of introduction, since I couldn’t really talk this up. Technically, it has all the right flavors, but there’s a lot more happening that doesn’t sit well with me. The pencil like note doesn’t combine with the sherry on the nose. The beery note on the palate doesn’t combine with the other flavors, and it’s weirdly thin.

Short to say, I’m glad I didn’t buy a whole bottle.

70/100

Inchmurrin 1996-2018, Sherry Hogshead #18020, 51%, Malts of Scotland

 

What a way to close out the year…

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Arran 11yo, 2006-2018, Sherry Hogshead, 51.9% – OB for The Old Pipe

Normally I’d be busy writing about the best whisky of the year in the days between Christmas and New Year’s. Not only the best whisky, but also the best records I found, the best beer and other booze. I’d also be making a to-do list for next year and many other things thirty-something dudes nowadays do.

However, this December has been mental as you might have noticed by the complete lack of posts regarding the Usquebaugh Society’s Blind Tasting Competition. This year, I didn’t really get around to it, so there’s still eight of the eighteen samples waiting to be tasted, and of the ones I did try some were too late, some I forgot to fill in and only about four or five were actual guesses. Strangely, I didn’t even end up last.

What I AM doing right now is writing about yet another whisky I bought last year, and a good one it is!

During spring, it’s become tradition to go camping with a group of friends. We’ve known each other for about 16 years and we’ve been doing weekends away for about a decade, maybe more. Three years ago we added a weekend of camping so we could bring the kids as well (the other weekend is without kids). The camping we went to thusfar is in Schijndel, which is pretty close to Sint Oedenrode, where The Old Pipe is located. Of course, during such a weekend you need proper booze, so a proper bottle shop is high on the ‘to visit list’. Last time, I bought this bottle of Arran.

IMG_20181221_163720Sniff:
Heavy, dry and leathery. Lots of dried fruits, spiced sherry, slightly funky. This was a very good cask. Baking spices with cinnamon, nutmeg and tree bark. Some cigars, autumn leaves, dates and plums.

Sip:
Fairly gentle for its ABV. A syrupy texture, with sweetness that builds to a bit of a peppery heat. Lots of dried fruits. Dates, peaches, plums, apricots. Big flavors. A hint of apple and iron from Arran’s spirit.

Swallow:
The baking spices come right back. Some blown out candles, lots of fruit and sweetness. The heat lingers at a very warming and comfortable level.

Me, and everyone I know who tried it love this bottle. I always love it when a shop that’s quite out of the way make an effort to lure people in with things only they sell. Luckily, in this case that thing is a very tasty thing. This is a cracking Arran that has their spirit shine through all the flavors the cask has imparted.

It’s a complex dram, with lots of things to discover, and a very well balanced one at that. I absolutely love it. Also, the € 65 for a bottle is a steal for whisky of this quality.

89/100

Arran 11yo, 2006-2018, Sherry Hogshead, 51.9%, OB for The Old Pipe. Available from their shop.

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What’s in a name? Double casking…

My friend Tom van Engelen has written another one of his posts comparing whiskies that should never be compared.


Does a name really influence your experience of a whisky? I am not well acquainted with all those Viking expressions from Highland Park, but is drinking a HP Thor (does it exist?) better than a HP Loki? Maybe for Marvel geeks, but not for me. I am only interested in the liquid inside. For good whisky you more often turn to independent bottlers, maybe, but I am always curious about official expressions too. So when Tamnavulin, a true gem in the whisky industry I suppose, put out a new official bottling, I just had to try it for myself.

Tamnavulin Double Cask

Even if this would be a 90 points whisky I would deduct 10 points for the sadly uninspiring name for this expression. Also, 40 percent? What’s the purpose? You’re better off buying a more transparent whisky, like a Glenfiddich 12 years old. But let’s discover the liquid inside the bottle:

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
The sherry finish did its job, that’s for sure. Nice deep raisins. Hints of the inside of an old cigar box. It is remarkably deep and layered.

Sip:
A weak whisky, unsurprisingly, but not without attraction. The grassy freshness I still remember from the previous flagship expression is still there but now wrapped in this cigar leaf. This at 46 percent would have been really punchy.

Swallow:
The finish is actually the part I like most about this malt. It’s sharp and with enough bite to make this whisky very acceptable. Good, active wood, modern taste but well-constructed. Just good.

79/100

I just can’t grasp why a producer would dilute such a decent malt. It’s probably
around 10 years old and at anything higher than 40 percent would be the way to go.
The loosely handled theme of this session was ‘irregular whisky you don’t taste every day’.

Tamnavulin is a rare one. I dipped into the sample drawer and found something unusual to finish this session.


Teaninich 1973 – 39 years old

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Image from Whiskybase

Bottled at the age of 39 years at just 40,1 percent, we will keep it modest today when it comes to ABV. Teaninich is not often bottled but still you can find expressions if you really want to. This bourbon cask (#6068) was filled in 1973.

Sniff:
Dry, yellow fruit. It’s fresh and soft, really going into the tropical department. Candy sellers at the carnival would love this. Really an autumn whisky, so with all this rain beating against my window a good dram!

Sip:
Oh my, surprisingly bitter! It does feel very pliant, good balance. Water makes it more fresh.

Swallow:
A perfect candidate for a daily dram. The only thing it misses is a little punch. But this dram delivers what it promises on the nose.

86/100

Good stuff!


About Tom van Engelen

tomI’m a writer in a variety of fields and have a soft spot for whisky, mainly malt, mainly from Scotland. In other times I enjoyed a stint as editor-in-chief of one of the first whisky magazines in the world. When not sipping a good glass I like to write some more, read, watch 007 movies or listen Bowie music. I’m engaged to Dasha, I have a sweet daughter and I live somewhere between the big rivers in the middle of The Netherlands.

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Miltonduff 10, 2004, 1st Fill White Wine Hogshead, 59.8% – SMWS (72.43)

This is about as random as it gets, I think. Miltonduff, which you don’t come across often and therefore I have no idea what to expect. It’s not overly old and a Speyside whisky, so my money would be on some fruit, lots of barley and a hint of oak.

However, this one is drawn from a white wine cask, which could mean anything. It could be intensely dry, it could be very fruity, it could be slightly nutty or it could just be vile. All depending on what kind of wine cask they used.

It’s called ‘Bunsen burners and burnt capacitators’. Honestly, that doesn’t bode well. Capacitators are generally covered in plastic, and that burning is not something very appealing.

csm_2016-05-10-15_5444523b3c

Miltonduff Distillery. Image from whisky.com

Sniff:
Sharp, with a sherry sweetness of fruit and spices, which is strange since it’s a (white) wine cask. Pear and apple, some ripe white grapes.

Sip:
Sharp with a lot of acetone bite. It’s not too strong initially, but grows in intensity and dryness. Fruity, dried pear and apple notes. Quite woody and spicy. Cinnamon sticks and nutmeg.

Swallow:
It’s mostly the woody notes that linger.

It’s actually a rather good whisky for the amount of skepticism I had going in. I’m not a fan of wine casks, and those random Speysiders don’t really tickle my fancy. Also, it being from the SMWS made me a bit worried too. They’re very hit and miss, if I’m fair.

So this thing then. It’s quite nice on the nose. The alcohol isn’t too overpowering, and there’s quite some unexpected scents to be discovered. However, the palate doesn’t offer much news and gets very strong after a while. The finish is rather dull. So, a good start, but not much after that.

83/100

Miltonduff 10 years old, 2004, 1st Fill White Wine Hogshead, 59.8%, SMWS (72.43, Bunsen burner and burnt capacitors)

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Glenmorangie 19, Finest Reserve, 43%

I somehow don’t review too many Glenmorangies, while I do really like the distillery’s output. This not reviewing many is mostly because their core range is very stable and they don’t do too many special releases. Also, a lot of their special releases are very old and expensive.

Apparently, this Finest Reserve is considered part of their core range, but before it was offered as a share in one of the groups I’m in, I hadn’t heard about it. Of course, it’s bottled at 43%, but with a very decent age statement.

These low alcohol drams take some extra time to taste, since my palate generally has to adjust a little bit after a long time of drinking cask strength stuff. Especially drams that are more about the subtleties instead of simple straight forwardness.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Massively malty and very gentle. Lots of dusty grains and a very gentle oakiness. Peach stones and apple cores. So, fruity with a bitter edge. Some caramel sweetness with a bit of a sugary jam like note. Stroopwafels.

Sip:
Sweet and syrupy on arrival. A very light bitter tinge again, but mostly fruity (peaches, apples, tinned pears). Lots of barley and grist too, so a bit of a dry texture.

Swallow:
The finish is more fruity, with blackberries and blueberries. Apples and peaches too. Lots of oak, far more than before, and of course the barley is still around.

I’d not be unhappy if I had bought a bottle, but I’m equally pleased with just a sample. Very easily drinkable, and there’s nice flavors. Also, it’s rather typical for Glenmorangie to be this apple-y and barley driven. Good stuff.

87/100

Glenmorangie Finest Reserve, 19 years old, 43%. Available at around € 120 in limited places.

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